Iceland Travel Guide

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Iceland Information

Population: 288,471 people

Time Zone: GMT +0

Driving side: Drivers drive on the right-hand side of the road.

Languages: Icelandic, a Germanic language of the Nordic group

Religion: The established religion in Iceland is Lutheran - Church of Iceland: 92,2%
Other Lutherans: 3,1%
Roman Catholics
0,9%; Others: 3,8%.

Emergency #: Call 112 countrywide for police, medical and fire emergencies.

Iceland Culture

Iceland is the most sparsely populated country in Europe with an average about three inhabitants per square km. Almost four-fifths of the country are uninhabited and mostly uninhabitable, the population being concentrated in a narrow coastal belt, valleys and the southwest corner of the country. Iceland is a progressive modern European society with a high standard of living and a high level of technology and education.

Iceland has a range of traditional foods, called "thorramatur", which are enjoyed especially in the period from January to March. These preserved foods include smoked and salted lamb, singed sheep heads, dried fish, smoked and pickled salmon, cured shark and other delicacies. Breads include laufabrauð (deep-fried paper-thin bread), kleinur (similar to doughnuts) and rye pancakes. Icelandic crepes are popular year around.

With regards to the art scene, many forms of expressions have found their success storyies in Iceland. Apart from the film industry, literature has a tradition going back to the middle ages, paintings and other Icelandic works are exhibited in galleries around the world, and the National Theatre, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Icelandic Dance Company and the Opera House all contribute to a rich cultural life.

Iceland Popular Destinations

The vast, beautiful landscape in Iceland lends itself to innumerable outdoors activities. Visitors to Reykjavík will find themselves within close proximity to nature.

Outdoor excursions - sports such as kayaking and white water rafting are not original to Iceland, but naturally performed. Also look out for opportunities for horse riding. river rafting, whale watching, salmon and trout fishing, sea angling, glacier trips and unforgettable 4 x 4 expeditions.

The Blue Lagoon - probably the most recognizable feature of what Iceland has to offer visitors. This beautiful resort is located midway between the Leif Eriksson International Airport and the city of Reykjavik. The water in the Blue Lagoon is very mineral-rich and offers a calming and therapeutic experience to the weary traveller.

Reykjavik city - it offers historical sites, natural beauty, museums and galleries, public parks, excellent shopping, a wide range of leisure activities, hotels, restaurants and a remarkably lively artistic scene. There are many theatres and galleries and one can go to symphony concerts, the ballet or opera.

Bright Summer nights in Reykjavik - in the month of June the sun never fully sets in the north. To experience this in its fullness, there are special excursions to the island of Grímsey on the Arctic Circle where you can experience the midnight sun.

Moving Around Iceland

Getting around in Iceland is easy during the summer but can be difficult during winter. The domestic airlines provide the only reliable form of transport in the winter when snow and ice prohibit most overland travel.

Flights - Iceland is only about a 3-hour flight from most European cities and 5 hours from the North American Eastern seaboard. From Reykjavík you can fly to many towns and tourist attractions around the country, such as Akureyri, the capital of the north, with its beautiful surrounding scenery, or the Westman Islands.

Buses - There is an efficient bus system in Reykjavík, but no train system. There is an extensive bus service to most parts of the country and to the highlands, as well as a large number of organized bus tours.

Taxis - Taxis are readily available in Reykjavik and in the larger towns.

Car rental - Local and international car rental companies operate throughout Iceland. Cars can be booked through a travel agent or an airline, at airports or directly after arrival in Iceland.

National festival and holidays

The popular nationwide festivals of the year are:

Independence Day - 17 June with colorful parades, street music and dancing and outdoor theatre.
Sjomannadagurinn - first week in June -dedicated to seafarers.
Midsummer -24 June, legend has it that Midsummer Night's dew possesses magical healing powers and that to roll in it naked will cure 19 different health problems;
Sumardagurinn Fyrsti - the third Thursday in April, a carnival-style celebration for the first day of summer.

Among the local festivals are:

Pjodhatic Vestmannaeyjar - August, an earth-shaking event of bonfires, outdoor camping, dancing, singing, eating and getting drunk. Verslunarmannahelgi - August, celebrated with barbecues, horse competitions, camping out, family reunions and excessive alcohol consumption.

Holidays:

New Year´s Eve - February
Festival of the light - April
Reykjavik Art Festival - June
Sailors Independence day - August
Summer Solstice Festival - August
Cultural night - August
Reykjavik Marathon - October
Gay pride - October
Unglist Young Art Festival - October
Reykjavik Jazz Festival, Iceland Airwaves

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